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N.Y. governor ignores pressure to step aside

Gov. David Paterson isn't scrapping his plans to run for the office he inherited 18 months ago despite growing pressure from Washington and intervention by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Governor's Paterson
N.Y. Gov. David Paterson's popularity has plummeted in recent months as the state's economic situation has deteriorated.Mike Groll / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gov. David Paterson isn't scrapping his plans to run for the office he inherited 18 months ago despite growing pressure from Washington and intervention by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has contacted the governor and the White House over his concern.

A senior Democratic adviser close to Paterson said Sunday that the state's first black governor is still planning to run and is focusing on the state's fiscal crisis. The adviser spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak for Paterson.

The governor's office has refused to comment since reports Saturday night revealed the Washington-based effort to persuade the governor to drop out of the 2010 race. That would pave the way for the far more popular Andrew Cuomo, the state's first-term attorney general.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said Sunday on his radio show that he has spoken to the White House and Paterson about his concern that Democrats do what is best for the people of New York. He wouldn't say whether he was advising Paterson to drop out.

Obama has not spoken to Paterson about the race, said a senior White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive political matter. But it's no secret that Democrats — in New York, in Washington and at the White House — are very concerned about Paterson's re-election bid.

The White House has not ordered Paterson to leave the race and would not do so, the official continued, saying only the governor can make the decision about what's right for him, the party and the state. But Obama's concern of losing the governor's office in such a key state has been communicated to Paterson and his advisers, the White Office official said.

Another senior Democratic adviser in New York said those seeking Paterson's withdrawal are suggesting he could land a Washington job in the administration. The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to speak for Paterson or the New York congressional delegation.

Deficit of more than $2 billion
Paterson is scheduled to present a plan later this month to the Legislature to deal with a deficit of more than $2 billion, which likely will require politically unpopular cuts in funding for some of Albany's most powerful special interests.

Last week, the Marist College poll found 20 percent of New York voters approved of Paterson's performance as governor, a mark slightly lower than his 21 percent approval rating in June. Only 24 percent of Democrats felt he was doing well. Seventy percent of voters said Paterson isn't a viable candidate for 2010, including 65 percent of Democrats.

In comparison, Cuomo's job approval rating is 69 percent. Sixty-seven percent of New Yorkers felt he should run for governor, including 77 percent of Democrats.

As lieutenant governor, Paterson moved to the governor's office in March 2008 with Eliot Spitzer's resignation amid a prostitution scandal. Since then, his popularity has plummeted and the state's economic situation has deteriorated, with job losses mounting and the unemployment rate rising to its highest level in 26 years.

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